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Human Resource Development: Performance Is the Key
Richard A. Swanson
The purpose of this position paper is to stimulate discussion by presenting a range of options for viewing HRD. The major sections are (1) "Views of Human Resource Development," (2) "Definitions," (3) "Performance With or Without Instruction," (4) "Perfonnance—A Closer Look," and (5) "Conclusions."
Views of Human Resource Development
First, 1 propose that scholars and professionals have the opportunity to view and position HRD at one of the following levels: • • • • As a major business process, something an organization must do to succeed. As a value-added activity, something that is potentially worth doing. As an optional activity something that is nice to do. As a waste of business resources, something that has costs exceeding the benefits.
Furthermore, 1 believe that the specific view selected by tbe HRD leader is the one tbat will most likely become reality—a self-fulfilling prophecy And, in the absence of a commitment from HRD leaders, management and/or government will most likely impose a view tbat is based on misinformation or partial information. Second, 1 propose that the theoretical foundations of HRD are drawn from psychological theory, systems theory, and economic theory (Swanson, 1982, 1992). Tbe visual image 1 use is a three-legged stool having tbe ability to stand secure on botb smooth and irregular surfaces (Figure 1). Furthermore, 1 believe tbat all three are required ingredients for HRD to be considered a major business process.
Note: This article is based on a conference keynote address to the International Research Network for Training and Development, June 23, 1994, Milan, Italy,
FORUM is a wnrefereed section inviting readers' reactions and opinions.
HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT QUARTIBLY, vol, 6. no. 2. Summer 1993 ©Jossey-Bass Publishers 207
Organization development: Organization development is the process of systematically implementing organizational change for the purpose of improving performance. In addition. Theoretical Foundations of HRD Swanson Definitions Human resource development: Human resource development is a process of developing and/or unleashing human expertise through organization development and personnel training and development for the purpose of improving performance. Performance: There are three levels of performance: organizational. HRD has three critical application areas: human resource management. Thus. Training and development: Training and development is the process of systematically developing expertise in individuals for the purpose of improving performance. process. HRD calls upon theories from multiple disciplines. HRD values: HRD practices should be theoretically and ethically sound. and Individual. the problem of connecting sound theory and sound practice within a theoretically sound and ethical framework is an important part of HRD theory and practice. .208 Figure 1. career development. and quality improvement. Components oj human resource devehpmenl: The two major components of HRD are (1) traimng and development and (2) organization development.
the seemingly simple matrix of questions leads the analyst to the HRD disconnects from performance. Measures oJ Perjonnance. 1992. 1994) and that multiple variables influence performance. process. 1 love the process of learning and the results of having new knowledge. Perjormance Levels and Vanables. Expertise is only one component of performance (Figure 2). The matrix of enabling questions in Figure 3 helps to diagnose performance issues. Jacobs and Jones. If HRD is aimed al specific perfonnance requirements and is an appropriate intervention. Rummler and Brache. 1 love expertise. 1994). The three levels of performance—organizational. and individual levels (Rummler and Brache. performance is the key. Watkins and Marsick. and Wimbiscus. When it is taken seriously. 1993. 1993). 1990. 1 love learning. Gagne. Learning is only one component of expertise (Bereiter and Scardamalia. 1945. More than learning. 1992. 1990. units of worthy perfonnance are identifiable. process. and Associates.Perjormance h the Key Performance—With or Without Instruction 209 The historic root of the HRD profession is the training and learning component (Swanson and Torraco. More than expertise. it is important to revisit the role of learning in the profession (see Dooley. Performance—A Closer Look For HRD to become a core husmess process. 1990. Worthy performance from the perspective of business and industry can be viewed at the organizational. Critical measures of performance in business and industry Figure 2. Jacobs. and individual—remind us that organizations view and value performance in a hierarchy (Davenport. 1988. The performance perspectives of levels. Relationship Between Learning. variables. 1995). and Performance Learning Experiise Performance •Organizational •Process •Individual . Senge. 1 love perjormance. Swanson. Campbell. In order to understand the contemporary role of HRD. 1962. 1992). and measures help to clarify the concept of perfonnance. 1995. Expertise. I love ihe personal sense of self that results from heing efficient and effective. Stolovitch and Keeps. Campbell.
subscriptions ordered. HRD viewed as an optional activity (something nice to do) or even a value-added activity (something that is potentially worth doing) is almost never directly connected to core business outputs. quality. and/or quality features that can be easily converted into monetary worth (Hronec. and reward systems support the desired performance? Does the organization establish and maintain selection and training policies and resources? Systems Design Capacity Does the process have the capacity to perform (quantity. and experience to perform? Motivation Expertise Source: Swanson. 1994. capilal. the performance requirements in todays workplace can often be separated into two categories. Thus. CD are tied to the core goods and services of the organization and (2) are generally measured in terms of quantity. Thus. The Taxonomy of Performance and its five tiers (Figure 4) . Swanson and Gradous. physical. and timeliness)? Does the process provide the information and human factors required to maintain it? Does the process of developing expenise meet the changing demands of changing processes? Does the individual have the mental. and cultural forces? Does [he organizaiional system provide structure and policies supponing the desired performance? Does the organization have the leadership. 52. Organizations expenence a concurrent need for control and innovation. Taxonomy oJ Perjormance. skills. wiring harnesses produced. time. and emoiional capacity lo perfonn? Does the individual want 10 perfonn no matter what? Does the individual have the knowledge. and infrastructure to achieve us mission/goals? Do the policies. The second has to do with improving the system. computers assembled. Performance Diagnosis Matrix of Enabling Questions PERFORMANCE VARIABLES PERFORMANCE LEVELS i Mission/ Goal i Process Level Do ihe process goals enable the organization to meet organizaiional and individual missions/goals? Are processes designed in such a way as to work as a system? Individual level Are the professional and personal mission/goals of individual congruent with the organization's? Does the individual face obstacles that impede job performance? Orgamzational Level Does the organizational mission/goal fit the reality otthe economic. Core goods and services might include such things as microchips produced. culture. Swanson. 1988.210 Swanson Figure 3. political. One category is concerned about maintaining the existing system. attempts to evaluate workplace performance outcomes from HRD programs' positions from these views are generally futile. windshields made. 1993. meals served. p. or clients added. 1990).
HRD as a Value-Added or Optional Activity. process. HRD that connects to the internal customer (not the external customer) is not systemically positioned to be a major business process. process. or system Trouhleshoot Maintaining ^ the System Operate Understand Source: Swanson. device. not a mission. form. process. sounds. or study or experimentation To advance an existing method. device. p. process. HRD as a Waste oj Business Resources. or system to a better state or quality To locale and eliminate sources of trouble in an existing method. device. device.and goal-driven system. Under this condition—as a supporting subsystem— HRD has the potential of being aligned with the strategic goals and thus adding value to the organization. HRDs contribution is directly connected to the external customer and most likely serves internal customers and parallel processes to achieve core performance outputs of the organization. I believe that the negative impact of low-quality HRD efforts is large. psychological. 1994. or system To comprehend the language. 57 provides additional insight irito performance requirements for these two disparate categories and the role HRD can play in improving perfortnance. or system To run or control the functioning of a method. The standard system model (input > process > output) has external customer requirements on the input side and external customer satisfaction as the output. device. Without this alignment. and/or economic integrity can cause losses to an organization. or symbols of an existing method. HRD as a Major Business Process. As a major business process. Finally and tragically. HRD is viewed as an optional activity that is totally dependent on the integrity of the internal customer it serves. Taxonomy of Performance Changing the System /Invent produce a new method. Most organization charts with their hierarchies show the chain of command of the organization. The standard system model (input > process > output) helps to illustrate the business organization as a system and HRD as a subsystem. While 1 know of no research as to the extent of losses caused by HRD. .Perjormance h the Key 211 Figure 4. process. however. HRD as a Major Business Process. HRD commissioned by an internal customer without systemic.
References Bereiter. 20. C . the model displays an orderly process in which HRD acknowledges performance as the key in the struggle to retain the integrity of the individual. R. Campbell. DC: War Manpower Commission Bureau of Trainmg. Training Within Industry Service. C. I offer the following general model of HRD as a performance improvement and major business process. . P. Washington. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. J. Furthermore. Boston: Harvard Business School Press..212 Figure 5. (1993). and organization. Surpassing oursdves: Ar\ inquiry mto the nature ar\ cations of expertise. Dooley. (1945). H. Systems Model of Performance Improvement: Performance Improvement Phases Swcmson Environment Economic Forces • Political Forces • Cultural Forces Organization Mission and Strategy • Organizational Structure • Technology " Human Resources Processes PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT Source: Swanson. Productivity in organizations: New perspectives from industrial and orgamzaticmal psycholog)/. M. Campbell. & Associates. (1993'). 1994. Chicago: Open Court. The training within industry report 1940-1945. process. & Scardamalia. (1988). T. J. R. Process innovation: Reenpneering worh ihrough information technology. one that connects HRD to other major business processes that are influenced by and influence the total organization and the environment in which it functions (Figure 5). Conclusion In conclusion. p. Davenport.
Swanson is professor and director. Hronec. A. McGraw-Hill. MN. In L. Demonstraiing financial benefits lo clients In H. (1994.... Berreit-Koehler. In H. San Francisco. 83-91. Jossey-Bass. Keeps (Eds. Vital signs. D. Swanson. Industrial training.. R. The classi/italion and description of performance improvement scholars: A comprehensive view of human resource development (Report No. Rummler. Paul. St. M. (1992). Jacobs. P (1990). New York: Macmiltan.. University of Minnesota Human Resource Development Research Genter. . & Keeps. StoloviLch & E. San Francisco: Berreti-Koehler. R. A. Keeps (Eds. San Francisco. M. Improving performance: How to manage the white space on the organization chart. In H. L. Military iraining and principles of learning. J. (1994). V (1993). StoloviLch &r E. Using quality. (1988). Jossey-Bass. H. Slructured on-ihe-job-iraining. Paul. R.). R. 499-512). D. Richard A. R. The art and practice of !he learning organization. (1995).). L. New York. M J . (1962). Swanson. A. Swanson. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Performance Is the Key 213 Gagne. 864-870). D. A. R. Mitzel (Ed. Senge. B. New York: Doubleday Sioloviich. American Psychologist. (1992). The history of iraining. j . Analysis for improving performance: Tools for diagnosing organizations and documenting workplace expertise. G. Jossey-Bass. A. Sculpting the learning organization: Lessons in the art and science of systemic change.. 602-618). & Gradous. K.& Jones. J. Watkins. (1993). Mar). Wimbiscus. &Marsick. dr Torraco. Swanson. Forecasting financial benefits of human resource development. St. J. Encyclopedia of educational research (pp. A. 63). Kelly (Ed. Handbook of performance technology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving performance problems in organi2:a(ions. San Francisco. R. A. Handbook of human performance technology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving performance problems in organizations (pp. New York: AMACOM.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 17. E. R. P (1990) The fifth discipline. (Eds. (1982). E. Structured on-the-job training: Unleashing expertise in the workplace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. lime. and cost performance measurements to chart your company's future. Jacobs. D.). (1995). San Francisco. Human Resource Development Research Center. J. R. Technical and skills Iraining handbook of the American Society for Training and Development. Vniversity of Minnesota. (Si Brache.). Swanson. Handbook of perjormance [ethnology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving peiformance problems in organizations (pp. (1992). S.
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